Saturday, February 19, 2011

Book Review: Rival by Sara Bennett Wealer

Title: Rival (Goodreads/Amazon)
Author: Sara Bennett Wealer
Series: None
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: Feb. 15 2011
My Source: Recieved from Publisher

Goodreads Summary:

What if your worst enemy turned out to be the best friend you ever had?

Meet Brooke: Popular, powerful and hating every minute of it, she’s the “It” girl at Douglas High in Lake Champion, Minnesota. Her real ambition? Using her operatic mezzo as a ticket back to NYC, where her family lived before her dad ran off with an up and coming male movie star.

Now meet Kathryn: An overachieving soprano with an underachieving savings account, she’s been a leper ever since Brooke punched her at a party junior year. For Kath, music is the key to a much-needed college scholarship.

The stage is set for a high-stakes duet between the two seniors as they prepare for the prestigious Blackmore competition. Brooke and Kathryn work toward the Blackmore with eyes not just on first prize but on one another, each still stinging from a past that started with friendship and ended in betrayal. With competition day nearing, Brooke dreams of escaping the in-crowd for life as a professional singer, but her scheming BFF Chloe has other plans. And when Kathryn gets an unlikely invitation to Homecoming, she suspects Brooke of trying to sabotage her with one last public humiliation.

As pressures mount, Brooke starts to sense that the person she hates most might just be the best friend she ever had. But Kathryn has a decision to make. Can she forgive? Or are some rivalries for life?

My Review:

Rival is a contemporary high school novel that focuses on friendships rather than romance, as so many contemporary novels do these days. Brooke and Kathryn are total opposites, but also similar in so many ways. They're the best of friends and the worst of enemies- and they're also competing for the same scholarship that they both need.

Wow! I was really impressed by this novel. It was so easy for me to connect to that the pages just kept turning. I was so immersed in the story and the characters. Both Brooke and Kathryn are wonderfully written characters. I couldn't decide who I was rooting for, it was so easy to understand both of them, but also why they both hated each other. Awesomely written, I loved the rivalry and friendship. Since the story was told in alternating voices between Brooke and Kathryn, occasionally who was narrating became a bit confusing, but this was just a tiny problem, it wasn't too bad.

There were small amounts of romance, but it wasn't the focus. I liked this portrayal of high school- it's not all about guys, it's also about friendships, and even things like scholarships. Very well done.

My one complaint was the ending. It was fine and predictable, but didn't wrap up as much as the story I would've liked. It could've had an epilogue or something to wrap the story up better.

Being a long-time choir nerd who's always competing to be in the best choir or to get the solo, so I completely could understand how good friends can turn into bitter rivals in a second. I also appreciated the musical terms defined at the beginning of each section. I'm not sure if others who aren't into music as much would appreciate these details, but I'm sure they would enjoy this book anyway.

I really enjoyed this stunning, relatable, contemporary debut by Sara Bennett Wealer. It's a pretty quick, easy read and I recommend it if you love great characters who are so real you don't know if you love or hate them but you can't forget them, or contemporary high school stories that aren't entirely focused on romance.

4.5 out of 5 stars

Cover: 4.5/5 Very pretty flower with piano keys- completely relates to the book! And I really love it!


  1. I can't wait to get my hands on this one! Sometimes it's nice to get a book that is more friendship that romance. Great Review!

  2. Thank you so much for the great review. I'm so glad you liked the book! And as for the ending... I originally ended by stopping right before the end of the competition, then skipping to an epilogue that revisits the girls as adults. A former agent suggested changing things, and I think it was the right call, but I *am* thinking of posting some of that first ending one of these weeks on my website. Also, another blogger gave me an idea for an epilogue that takes place just a couple of weeks after the competition. I'm toying with the idea of writing that up. So stay tuned!


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